March was a bumper month for MEMORI’s early modernists, with two excellent – and highly contrasting – papers. David Martin Jones (Queensland and King’s College) explored the political poetry of Fulk Greville, a significant political figure who served three monarchs, Elizabeth, James and Charles. As David pointed out, Greville was a complex Renaissance figure, a poet, thinker and courtier preoccupied with political power that evoked the English face of Machiavelli. He was also a Calvinist and this accounts both for his pessimistic view of the human condition and the right-based view of government that informs his political theology.
Continuing this series’ focus on water and travel, Clare McManus (Roehampton) analysed the dramaturgical contexts and ideological meanings of voyage drama (a term she was equivocal about) of the 1620s, focussing especially on John Fletcher’s The Island Princess (which she recently edited for the Arden Early Modern Drama series) and Shakespeare’s Othello (which Clare has also edited for the recent Norton Collected Shakespeare). Though Othello had been first performed in 1603, it had remained unpublished until 1622 – which, as Clare explained, was at the height of the fascination with voyage drama.